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 Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones

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GoldenDrakon
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Age : 46
Location : Usually right where I'm needed most...

PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:51 am

Karnoz unraveled his cloak, assuming a more unobtrusive mannor.

"Thank you but no friend." he said, waving his hand. "Tis a bit early for wine, but I would like to reserve a table for two come this next hour. I have a bit of business and could use a hearty breakfast before conducting it. Still, a hearty mug of tea might be welcome to help drive away the cold, no?"

Karnoz slid his coins over the counter as he took the steaming mug. He took a sip, turning to survey the room with a disinterested expression.
"Say," he mentioned, knowing full well that a member of the guard was right next to him. "Doesn't that girl over there look like that Bockenboo girl? You know, the one wanted for questioning or someting?"

With a shrug, Karnoz turned away, taking another sip and welcoming the heat as it ran down his throat. Discreetly however, he was keenly aware of the room around him. If the guard chose to pursue his comment, then he would take note of those who might react suspiciously to the sight of a city guardsman or two moving determinedly through the crowd.

Karnoz left just after. He beelined back over to the temple, intending to beg use of the mule for a few more hours in order to make his deliveries. Kurig had not been at the Bard and Fox, which meant he was still ahead of the time for their meeting. gathering up the wagon, Karnoz headed out to meet at the Temple of Farlighan and his new employer.

**(Once I get to the temple, I will meet with Kurig and use the opportunity to drop off the items from the wagon's secret compartment before escorting Kurig back to the Bard and Fox for our breakfast meeting.)**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:25 pm

"Tea it is, sir," the barkeep nodded. "We've only the Liese Bay tea at this time...a Kopek for a cup. But we can expect more variety in our tea when the springtide comes. I thank you."


(Karnoz pays 1 Copper for a good mug of hot tea)

With coin in hand, the barkeep disappeared into the kitchen, emerging moments later with a fire-heated tin tea kettle and a matching strainer bristling with dark brown tea leaves. The steaming, ruddy tea quickly filled the mug between the two men, and Karnoz perked up at the tea's stiff, bitter flavor as he slowly downed it in a series of delicate sips.

Karnoz made his way around the tavern again, sampling the social atmosphere as the tea ebbed from the mug and kindled a fire in his own belly. The bard had moved on to another song about winter yielding to spring, but the new song's melody was a mite lighter in contrast to the dirge-like tune before it. The noblewoman's table was approched with a casual gait, and suspicious words in guardmen's ears led to narrowed gazes.

"Bockiboo Tinspike the thief, eh? We'll be delighted to ask her a few questions. Stay vigilant, citizen."

Two guards rose from the table and sauntered through the tavern, with the remaining guards, the lady and her knight watching after them. The reactions of concern and alarm surrounding them as they approached the gnome could be expected, and her companions glowered, rose from theirs and spoke in protest. None seemed to shrink from the guards or avert their gazes for fear of discovery. And only the Stali did not pay attention to the guards or to the accused gnome; their attentions honored another purpose.

An emptied tea mug was soon set on the counter, and Karnoz darted across the street, taking the mule by its reins and leading it across the oaken bridge.


• • •


Kurig was already on his feet, conversing blithely with two attending priests of the Traveller by the time Karnoz arrived. His garments were new and unmarred, and he exhibited no limping, winces or other telltale signs of pain.

"Ahh, friend Josef, you've arrived! I am truly in your debt. And my friends here have seen that I live to wander the earth another day," he beamed with warm glances to the simply clad clerics attending him. "I see that my wagon still brims with casks and barrels. Is the Bard and Fox still waiting for me?"


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GoldenDrakon
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:22 pm

Karnoz made note of the reactions, or rather the lack of reactions of the patronage before he discreetly departed. It was a good sign really and bespoke that Hennbauer likely did not have additional accomplaces. That decided, the rogue made his way back to Kurig. Pausing only to load his secreted items from the wagon to his waiting satchel and backpack.

"Ah Kurig!" he said, smiling at the halfling. 'You seem to be much better, but oh, it has been a horrific and trying night! I have great need for a bath and a hot meal. Please allow me but a few moments to refresh myself while the priests attend to Berbolyn. Then I shall tell you my story over breakfast."

Moving quickly, Karnoz took the opportunity to place his stowed items in their borrowed room at the temple and also to clean himself up an much as possible before moving out. After all, he was supposed to be a merchant, not a battle worn and blood stained wanderer. Once clean and dressed, Karnoz hurried to meet Kurig and the wagon once more.

"It was terrible," he began, leading the mule back towards the Bard and Fox. "I recovered the wagon well enough, as you can see, but I fear that poor Berbolyn... he... well, I think thieves accosted his remains. Those thrice-damned locals, I never saw them once I returned, perhaps it was them or maybe they were run off by bandits...I don't know, but clearly Berbolyn's remains had been disturbed. I suppose it is good fortune that the wagon was unmolested. Probably too large to the scoundrels to carry off."

"In any case, I made my way back to the city but I was accosted by highwaymen who demanded I surrender the wagon. Again, I was lucky in that the criminals were incompitent and not particuarilly skilled. I bested them, but not without injury. I managed to beg a local family for help and stayed the night with them before making my way back to the city this morning. I told the guard what had happened, but it seems that they are having a goodly deal of trouble from this Tetrov fellow."

Karnoz heaved a great sigh before continuing. "I returned to the Temple of Boccob, thinking you still might be there. Obviously you were not, but I managed to pay for healing and also stopped at the Bard and Fox, just in case you had moved on without me. Seeing that you were also not there, I asked that a table be held for us and came over the river to the other temple...and here we are."

"A most trying time indeed."

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:47 pm

"It sounds like quite an exhilirating...adventure, I dare say," Kurig stammered. "How fortunate you are to survive it! It seems that every week we hear of some hapless victim left cold and dead and by the bandits. And you struck down a party of bandits, you say? Surely the guardsmen were delighted to hear of that, with so much trouble from Oily Tetrov and his few rival bands of highwaymen. Mayhaps the bandits will all go extinct before they pluck us bare, eh?"

The two well-tanned priests attending him excused themselves and returned to their templar duties, leaving Kurig and his visitor to each other. Kurig, completely eased of the terrible bite wounds, seemed even more hale than Karnoz had anticipated. Gesturing across the river, he beamed, "And we have a table at the Bard and Fox set aside for us, eh? Come! I only need to visit my wagon a moment, and then I'll be delighted to pay for your breakfast. We can discuss our business further then, if you like. And I have words of excuse and of promise for our barkeep's ears as well. Shall we?"


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GoldenDrakon
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:43 am

He scrubbed his fingers through still-damp hair after his hurried cleaning before they left. "To the Bard and Fox then!" Karnoz agreed heartilly, offering a helping hand to the halfling as they entered the wagon.

"Please do not hink me any great hero, I am nothing of the sort. I was lucky, very lucky with the bandits. Still I managed to return a few items over to the guard. They mentioned that there had been a couple of good folk who had liberated stolen merchandise recently. Perhpas those who disturbed Berbolyn were among them? I could ask if you wish."

**(Once we get to the Bard and Fox, I will let Kurig take the lead and do the talking. As always, I will keep my eyes and ears open)**

"Kurig, may I ask something of Trock Reik?" Karnoz asked over breakfast, lowering his voice and leaning toward the halfling. "I do not mean to sound suspicious, but I could not help but notice... There is a great amount of gold in this city, surely this very room is an excellent example of this. Yet with many of the locals, I have seen that a few Kopek is like a fortune. Does the mayor not see this... disparity ..among the common man?"

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Jun 27, 2010 12:55 pm

(Voops...I forgot to mention the bath thingie in my last post there. But rest assured that the Temple of Fharlanghn here has a small bathing pool, several wash bowls and wash basins, a snack table with simple bread and fruits, and similar amenities for easing the weary traveller's mind and body and refreshening him or her for whatever roads lie ahead.)

(And I forgot to correct that before, too: Kurig is human. Berbollyn was his halfling sidekick turned into bat food. Wink )


"That is a good idea," Kurig appraised. "Very well. After we finish breakfast and business with the Bard and Fox, perhaps we can check with the guardhouses to see if Berbollyn's belongings have been returned. I do not harbor much hope to see them returned, but...hope springs eternal, I suppose. Berbollyn will be buried tomorrow at dawn, and I would like to see his favorite flask returned to him, if nothing else."

The aroma of many breads and meats greeted them as the door to the Bard and Fox opened and welcomed them.


• • •

When Karnoz returned, he saw that some details had changed while others remained. The red-bearded dwarf still watched him from the front door, the party of four dwarves still exchanged their tales of labor and derring-do, the gloomy half-orc still frowned and battled his sorrow through a drunken stupor, the two cavaliers still laughed and ordered cup after cup to taste and appraise the various house drinks. The bard still teetered and swayed through the tables, lilting a lighter and gayer melody. And the Stali men still waited like vultures and watched like hawks for when Hennbauer would return downstairs.

But the woodsman warming his rump at the fireplace had since departed, perhaps to brave the winter winds again. The accused gnome and her cohorts were gone, and while some of the city guards had left with them, others had come to the inn to take their places. The two mages left their table to claim stools at the bar, where they shared white wine together and continued to chat in their harsh wizard tongue. And the general and his consort had moved across the room to join the noble lady and her knight at their table, where they spoke freely of war and conquest in years past.

Kurig approached the barman, and each immediately recognized the other. Berbollyn's absence was questioned, and it was explained. And Karnoz...Josef was praised for his heroic clash with the dire bat and the rescue, and the barkeep joined Kurig in that praise.

"I did see him in here earlier, Kurig...a bit bloodied and ragged, like he got into a scuffle with something bit and terrible. You're looking better now...Josef, was it? A pity that poor Berbollyn could not be spared. He was always a jolly fellow, always quick with a joke and a quip. But you kept our hardworking friend Kurig out of Death's grasp, eh? Well, that certainly earns a draught and a breakfast at cost to the house. Take a table, both of you. Merina will see to your orders shortly."


• • •

Chewing on a hunk of toasted ham, Kurig thought deeply in answer to Karnoz's question. "The mayor knows of this disparity, I believe, as does everyone else. That is the way that Trock Reik has always been: the wealthy prosper while the poor stay poor. The wealthy subsist on wild boar and imported wines, while the commonfolk subsist on apples, rabbits, cheap mead and well water. And I do not see this society moving towards equality anytime soon; the aristocrats keep themselves aristocrats, and they see that the commoners remain commoners. And rare is the commoner who can escape that."

Another swallow of wine followed the ham, and Kurig resumed. "But the commonfolk here in Trock Reik do have lives better than most. Look across the way to Kurvoss, to poverty and crime. Kurvoss has little money to spare because no merchant-princes or aristocrats will go there for fear of getting killed or robbed to their knickers. So the commoners of Kurvoss suffer profoundly, while the commoners of Trock Reik simply toil their ways into a comfortable banality."

Yes, Karnoz knew Kurvoss well...likely more intimately than Kurig would ever dare to know Kurvoss, come to that.

"Why do you ask? Do you nurse an ambition to change the social order, perhaps? Or is it but a casual querry?"


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GoldenDrakon
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Jun 27, 2010 1:31 pm

Karnoz offered a half-hearted shrug. He already knew the answer before he ever asked the question, but a good cover, always needed to be nursed and molded, lest the mark start thinking too much about what he was actually capable of. Better to be seen as the bumkin, than be revealed as the chessmaster.

"A casual question I suppose, although I can always hope. I am not so foolish to not understand the way of the world, but look at me. I am a commoner and the son of a commoner. Many have been the nights where I either caught my supper or went to bed hungry. Hells, I was coming to Trock Reik to sell myself as a laborer with my trusty shovel when I met you."

He offered Kurig a lopsided smile. "And by fortune and fate, here I am with you. Blessed with new friends, new opportunities and best of all, a new chance to be more than what I was! Social order be damned, we can all improve our lot in life if we believe it."

With a final flourish, Karnoz tapped his mug on the tabletop, emphasizing his proclamation before tipping the mug back in a long pull of mead.

Even as he engaged in breakfast chatter, his keen eyes and ears were ever alert; gathering scraps of information and gossip. His particular interest was currently on the well to do general and his companions. If any were worth listening to in this rabble, they were likely it.

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Jun 27, 2010 2:38 pm

"A truly inspiring tale you tell," Kurig nodded to Karnoz pleasantly. "Perhaps you are right. My grandfather started our family on the wine and ale trade, and my mother improved it after him, and I after her. And my grandfather was no more than a modest fisher from Sturkov before he struck his opportunity to prosper. Can one man enjoy such success in one generation? I like to imagine so. Yes, perhaps you are right. Perhaps we can always improve our lot in life, no matter how others may weigh against us. And perhaps you may join me in my ever-growing venture, hmm?"

He raised his wine goblet to Karnoz in a gesture of toasting. "To prosperity. And to the continuing improvement of life and welfare."


(Karnoz - Listen check waived)

Karnoz's gaze continued to wander behind Kurig, to the table behind him. Between watching their lips and hearing the measure of their words, Karnoz could perceive snippets of the discussion between General Hurinog and the lady.

"...it was shortly before your tsardom attacked us that our centuries-long trade with Karkova dwindled and died. For that, we suspected the invasion well in advance, but we were still forced to endure without Karkovan oats and meat for three winters. At least our fishing boats held fast and continued with their duties. Kunyakarova has always thrived on fish and shellfish."

"Regretable, yes. Many of us questioned the tsar's decision to invade your island, believe you me. But I assure you that I had no part in it, Madam, for I was away in the east defending the motherland against the aggression of the Konegheimers...."


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Jun 27, 2010 2:57 pm

Karnoz continued to evesdrop as prudence disctated, but it seemed that the quartet were not discussing anything of value at the moment. Still, opportunity might make a showing sooner or later. Until then, he enjoyed his breakfast while he could, privatly using the opportunity to study and memorize the inside of the tavern and the two Watchmen.
Kurig would probably commence with his business after the meal was concluded. If not, Karnoz would discreetly suggest so. He had other things to do than just deliver liquor all day, not that Karnoz would ever voice that.

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Jun 27, 2010 3:19 pm

The general and the lady continued to discuss the details of the Karkovan theatre in the Imperial Civil War, with the knight and the one-armed soldat contributing their insights where they could. Between the two Karkovans and the two Kunyakarovans, none sounded pleased with the war's outcome, and all sounded pleased that peace between the peoples returned, even if that peace came at a great price: Karkova's sovereignty.

Kurig drew back his goblet and drank deeply, finishing the wine. The last slices of ham followed shortly after. "Well, Josef, I had best see to my wagon now. Inboro and the Brothers will be delighted to have my shipment, delayed as it was. Would you stay about and help me with the casks and bottles, or do you have pressing business elsewhere?"


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Jun 27, 2010 3:54 pm

Karnoz smiled. "But of course I will stay and help you! After all, if I am to be your assistant, then I must do all I can to be useful to you! Perhaps I would even be fortunate enough to meet some of these famous guests you mentioned."

Besides, Karnoz needed to opportunity to scout out more of the tavern under the Stali's very noses and solidify his alias.

There was still plenty of work to do.

**(I will offer my two coppers worth in the negotiating if useful, if not, let Kurig do the business negotiating. I will offer to help unload and move whatever needs to be moved, hopefully getting a chance to see behind the bar and into the kitchens, storerooms and whatnot. Make note of the layout of the place and also note if there is anything of particular interest or value about.)**

**(As a side note, if the opportunity to 'aquire' salt or red pepper comes available, I will do so, but this is a low priority, so only if a good opportunity presents itself. I still have a clay flask I can fill if needed.)**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:01 pm

"Excellent, excellent," Kurig beamed with approval. "The Jade Angel too awaits her casks when I am finished here, so your hands will certainly help us make haste to the Jade Angel's door. I thank you again, friend. Perhaps we will yet get to hear Kuria Linienkosa sing tonight, eh?"

Kurig and Karnoz went over the order's checklist together. And while Kurig spoke with the Minkets brothers and negotiated his fees, Karnoz returned to the wagon for the first cask of General Hurinog's Fructe Rosii, taking the opportunity to check on the wagon's concealed compartment. The sack inside continued to wriggle, but weaker and more slowly; the bat pups would need to be fed soon, if they were to be kept alive.

The heavy cask would provide a useful alibi for getting into the kitchen, even if only briefly; a new wine merchant's assistant, losing his way into the kitchen by "mistake" while trying to find a place for a valuable cask of brandy would be a forgiveable intrusion, while a black-cloaked stranger who made for the kitchen with no rightful purpose after wandering in from the cold would not.


(Karnoz - opposed Move Silently check: 16)
(Chefs - opposed Listen check: 4)

(Karnoz - multiple Pick Pocket checks (DC 10): Success (17), Success (26), Success (21))

The Bard and Fox was home to a small number of rare or unique culinary recipes, recipes which the management would not wish to fall into rival hands. Hence, the three hinged windows in the kitchen were mere slits scarcely wide enough for a halfling to slip though, paned with obfuscating stained glass and located near the ceiling, to be opened in case a chef's misstep filled the kitchen with smoke. The chimney from the kitchen's cooking hearth would serve far better as a means of escape, but only if the fire were first extinguished.

A simple brass water pump brought water up into the kitchen from a well beneath the Bard and Fox, and the kitchen's air hung thick with the scents of meats and spices. The large spice rack was hence not difficult for Karnoz to find by his nose alone. And though he moved as silently as he could--not even pausing to set the cask down as he strode casually through the kitchen--the two white-garbed chefs, busy with so many breakfasts as they were, soon took notice of Karnoz's presence after almost tripping over him and rectified his misnavigation by ushering him out of the kitchen and behind the bar where the cask belonged...but not before he had furtively taken what he wanted.


(Karnoz has stolen two quart-sized jars of finely crushed salt and one quart-sized jar of ground red pepper. Multiple jars of salt, red pepper and several other spices were procured by the inn's staff and kept in the spice rack in anticipation of a long winter, so Karnoz was able to find and take three completely filled jars. The red pepper is dried but, if properly steamed, will serve almost as well as fresh red pepper in certain herbalist or alchemical recipes.)

"Ah, you again!" the barman smiled, showing Karnoz to the Fructe Rosii's rightful place. "I had no idea that you were Kurig's new help. Was the tea good? Oh, do be careful there. Let me help you with that cask...."

Soon, a second cask of Fructe Rosii joined its mate behind the bar in anticipation of the general's lengthy stay. Kurig took the opportunity to usher General Hurinog and his company over to the bar, extolling the brandy's quality and virtues as Karnoz returned to the wagon for an even more useful burden: the keg of 1325 Brezza di Montagna.

"Ah, Josef?" Kurig approached as Karnoz came back to the bar with the old cabernet. "I've some prestigious friends who would like to meet you! These two well-groomed gentlemen are Irno and Irvust Minkets, the proud proprietors of this tavern. And this man, to whom thousands owe their lives, is the exemplary General Zuko Hurinog...and with him, the fearless Lieutenant Irina Keil, who personally confronted the Iron Golem of Steyrwaff at the Battle of Zelezo Ford..."

"...and was left with a stump of an arm for my trouble," Keil sourly retorted.

"Fah! A lasting reminder of your peerless valor, I should think," the general countered. "And speaking of valor, Josef, Mister Kurig informs us of the mortal peril he faced on his way here. You faced and killed a dire bat singlehandedly, I am told...no small task! Swift and ravenous beasts, they are. During that bygone civil war, the devilish halflings of Omikoros had trained the Vos Chiropteros, a batallion of lancers who flew such great bats and other flying beasts into battle, especially during night strikes where the bats would prove incredibly effective. The Vos Chiropteros descended on our line of catapults and ballistas during the Battle of Wenthester, cutting our unprepared artillerists' numbers from 300 to a little under sixty in roughly five minutes. Why, if the war were still alive, I would eagerly seek to enlist you as a soldier...perhaps even an officer, a scout or a tactical assassin, given the proper training and procedure. Imagine, you and five or ten others like you, sneaking into the Vos Chiropteros' camp before they could get off the ground...."

"Ah, I could not help but overhear the conversation. And this must be my Brezza di Montagna...very exquisite taste. I was told of your arrival at this most worthy inn, Mister Kurig."


(Karnoz - mystery check (DC ??): ??)

Kurig and Karnoz turned from the suddenly stilled conversation. Arno Hennbauer stood at arm's reach from Karnoz, examining and feeling the keg's brands and woodburned seals for the vintage's authenticity. The dark-skinned swordsman stood with him, exchanging a pointed stare with the Stali watchman who had followed the two from the stairs. The porcelain-skinned woman was nowhere to be seen.

"How regretable it is that Berbollyn could not join us this morn," Hennbauer frowned. "I have a new recipe for Thusian mint pie which might interest him. Is this cloaked fellow your new helper, Mister Kurig?"

"Indeed, he is," Kurig smiled timidly, likely unwilling to grow too friendly with a man of waning reputation. "Josef will be replacing Berbollyn, who regretably was lost to a dire bat's aggression. The poor, hapless lad. But Josef has proven himself a brave, clever and capable man, and I am honored to have him as my new business partner. Josef, this is Arno Hennbauer, historian and procurer of rare goods."

"Alas, Mister Kurig, circumstances have forced me to leave that latter calling behind me for the duration. But...this cask feels quite cold, eh? Good, good; Brezza di Montagna is best served chilled...and for 35 Desyatka, as we agreed?"

"I am a reasonable man," Kurig replied, "and it is unfortunate that your keg's delivery was delayed. I am willing to reduce the price to 32 Desyatka for...."

"No, no, I'll not hear of it," Hennbauer interrupted. "You had no control over that happenstance which ended Berbollyn's life, true? You have lost much already. 35 Desyatka, and not a coin less. Whenever you are ready, Mister Kurig, you and Josef may bring the keg to Room 15, and I will pay you there."

Across the tavern, the red-bearded dwarf watched Hennbauer and Karnoz rather warily, averting his eyes and poring over his cooling stew as soon as Karnoz returned the stare.

Hennbauer's gaze roved across the keg's brands and seals again. "I've not savored such a cabernet in so many years. Josef it was, yes? If I may ask, by what way did you come into Kurig's acquaintence?"


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:22 am

Karnoz happilly tucked the jars of spices away in the secret compartment when he had gone back to aquire the next cask. These spices would indeed be put to good use when the rogue managed to find the spare time for some of his little side ventures. He also took notice of the sack of bats making a mental note to get some scraps to feed the tiny little money makers.

As the final cask was brought in, Kurig hapilly introduced Karnoz to some of the honored guests, especially General Zuko Hurinog. Karnoz smiled and shook hands in greeting, genuinely pleased to meet some of these people, but perhaps for differing reasons than Kurig or anyone else might have thought. Karnoz was at heart a Karkovian and these were heroes of his homelend. Karnoz could respect that, even if someday he might accept a contract to exterminate one of them.

"I am most honored general." Karnoz said, affecting a foolish grin while eagerly, perhaps a touch over eagerly, shaking the elder man's hand. "Please, forgive my eagerness, but I had an uncle at Piez Karkovigrad. Tragically, he passed away two winters later, but it was two years that he never would have had if not for you. He always spoke very highly of you and your resolve in the face of our enemies."
"If it is not too unseemly General, may I ... Um, .. May I have your autograph?"

Karnoz gave a sheepish, half-apologetic smile and hoped his ears were not turning red . Poor, star struck Josef, just a country commoner in the presence of so many refined and famous people.... at least that was what he wanted to portray. The bumkin as opposed to the chess master.

An image that hopefully was in play when he suddenly came face-to-face with his prey. Josef offered his hand to Hennbauer as well, it was only polite after all. But Karnoz sensed great suspiscion in the man's behavior, more evedince that he was aware of Karnoz's coming, if not of Karnoz himself. The assassin could practically smell the paranoia leaking from his pores. It would make Hennbauer even more dangerous.

He also knew that it was risky to lie to a liar, of which he was certain Hennbauer was, let alone a suspicious liar. So he kept to the truth in reply to a seemingly innocent question.

"I have a shovel." Josef said with a shrug. "I thought I might be able to hire myself out as a laborer. I also met a potter on the way here and learned that the city guard might be willing to pay cash bounties for goblin heads. I am a fair shot with a bow and I thought I might be able to take one or two if I encountered them. It would provide enough coin to stay warm and fed through the winter if I was lucky."

"I met Kurig and Berbolyn on the road just after they had been attacked by that giant bat-thing. By fortune and good luck, Kurig and I survived but Berbolyn did not. I helped Kurig to Trock Reik and the rest is self evident."

He offered a smile to Kurig. "Besides, being a merchant's assistant is much better work than shoveling snow in the winter!"

**(Without being too obvious, I will pay close attention to Hennbauer's dress and equipment as well as his companion's)**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:30 pm

(Karnoz - untrained Diplomacy check (DC 8): Success (15))

General Hurinog smiled a beamish smile, pleased with the flattering request. "An autograph? For the nephew of an honored soldier? Why, certainly! I've long carried an ink flask and a shaved porcupine quill in my vest for the signing of official writs, but I've nothing to sign for you."

"This, then, General!" Irno Minkets snatched from the table at his side a menu printed on vellum and offered it to the general. "A current menu, good Josef, so that you may show your friends indubitable proof of where you met General Hurinog this winter. And perhaps that menu will remind you to revisit the Bard and Fox in the future, yes? Remember: the hearth always blazes at the Bard and Fox."

Hurinog seated himself and unstoppered the thin ink flask from his vest. The cut tip of the porcupine needle darted from that flask and danced across the menu laid on the general's table, leaving Hurinog's well wishes inscribed above and below the menu's title in his unique, open-curled script.

"Be faithful and ready,
for Karkova shall return.

-General Z Hurinog"


Hurinog's eyes glimmered with a bittersweet taste of nostalgia as he wiped his quill clean and slid the menu across the table to Karnoz. Hurinog had received another spark of personal validation, a drop of assurance that he and his soldiers had not truly fought in vain.

As for Karnoz, he received something entirely else...not a spark of any halcyon past, but perhaps--just perhaps--a spark to help kindle his dark future.


(Karnoz has received the Bard and Fox menu with General Hurinog's autograph. While he may keep it and treasure this shard of Karkova's past, he could just as well sell it quite profitably to an interested buyer...or keep it for himself and for any opportune applications of his Forgery skill.)


• • •

"I must agree," Kurig replied, "especially given the snowfall of our winters! Why, you can hardly call yourself a proper Karkovan if you never had to tunnel out of your house in all your life!"

A ripple of light laughter crossed the gathered throng, with Irno Minkets chiming in. "Heh! That was the December of 1368 for us, I believe."

Hennbauer, likely never having known such a winter himself, feigned a cordial giggle. His dusky and humorless companion did not offer so much as that.

But all the throng had swallowed Karnoz's tale of hard luck and sought opportunity, an all too common tale in such meager times. Hennbauer briefly turned away to whisper something to his cohort, then returned to properly excuse himself.

"Oh, how I wish I could tarry longer, but Sadu and I must see to our business and preparations for today. Be hearty and well, everyone. And Kurig? I look forward to drinking deep of my Montagna. We'll see you shortly, hmm?"

Hennbauer drifted past the Stali watchmen with a defiant sneer and Sadu but two steps behind. Kurig turned to Karnoz with a bemused shrug and took up the cask again. "How glad I am that this keg is so small. If you would, could you finish bringing in the rest of our delivery while I carry this Brezzi di Montagna up to Hennbauer? We should have one cask of Horsewold Vineyards, four bottles of Livuvia white wine and the six kegs of Duvaun Oros mead left; you'll probably need my help with the Horsewold wine, so bring in the Livuvia wine and the honey mead first. I shan't be away for long."


(Arno Hennbauer is presently dressed in a dark scarlet tailcoat lined with red satin and buttoned with dark, burnished gold buttons, with a white collared tunic, a chestnut vest and a red, garnet-studded cravat beneath it. His woolen leggings are dyed a matching shade of chestnut, and his buckled low boots are cobbled from a rich, dark brown oxhide. Hennbauer's dark blond hair is shoulder-length and kept in a single cherry red silk bow, and he is clean-shaven with no facial hair. A single thin, straight scar--the kind dealt by light blades such as rapiers and daggers--crosses from the left hinge of his jaw and ends at the jawline halfway to his chin. Aside from a copper signet ring on his right hand and a braided unjeweled gold ring on his left, he sports no other jewelry. The tailcoat appears to shimmer in strong light and bears the texture of descaled reptilian skin, but whether or not the skin is truly wyvernhide is a matter for closer and more intense examination.)

(Sadu the Shadhiran has dusky skin similar to that of our own Middle Eastern folk. He wears flat hightop shoes of thick yellow canvas tied with white cord and cherry-sized brass aglets, and their soles are riveted black cuirboilli. His loose-fitting blue satin pantaloons are belted with quadruple-braided yellow cord (sturdy enough to support a medium-sized scabbard, evidently) and dressed above his shoes with similar yellow broadcloth. For the winter he has chosen to wear a full coat of white tiger fur, but beneath it his torso sports nothing more than crossed turquoise sashes with yellow tassels and trim. He is bald and heavily muscled, with white tattoos of half-sunburst designs beneath both of his eyes and, beneath his simply tied and unjeweled purple satin turban, another tattoo of three white, parallel stripes crossing his scalp from his brow to the base of his skull. He has no jewelry, save for the lapis lazuli inlay running the length of his scimitar's scabbard.)

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sat Aug 07, 2010 10:34 am

Josef beamed with delight at the autographed menu. " I thank you ever so much General." he said with genuine appreciation."I shall treasure this, but alas, I have work to do, so if you will all excuse me."

As graciously as possible, Joseph extracted himself from the gathering and dutifully made his way back out to the wagon in order to retrieve the Bard and Fox's orders.

**(There is little else for me to do here at the moment, so get the orders done as soon as I can so we can finish our deliveries at the next stop. When we move on, see if I can discreetly guide Kurig into discussing his visit to Hennbauer's room, especially regarding his tattooed accomplice and if there was an 'exotic woman' around with him too. (the one I saw with Hennbauer earlier) Then move onto the Jade Angel)**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:57 pm

Karnoz was busied unloading the fourth keg of Duvaun Oros when Kurig emerged from the Bard and Fox, stepping down the stairs to the street with the jingle of new coins marking his footfalls.

"So there's that," he grinned through stubbled lips as he moved past Karnoz to take up the fifth keg of honey mead. "We'll soon be on our way, eh?"


• • •

The mule clopped roughly through the snow-flecked paveways, lugging the wagon and its two riders behind. The cityfolk littering the streets scooted aside to permit their passage, some with meek slouches, others with annoyed stares. And Karnoz's questions about Hennbauer and his cohorts made for welcome conversation on their way.

"Hennbauer did seem well-to-do, I must say. He's renting a room large enough for four, yet his cohorts--Sadu and Olanagh, I believe--are both staying in two smaller rooms just across the hall from his. A separate room for Olanagh is understandable; she's a woman, for one, and for two, she helps Mister Hennbauer in matters of cartography, translation and deciphering...hardly a role to keep by his side at all times. But considering that the Shadhiran Sadu is his bodyguard, I find his lodging arrangements surprising. Mister Hennbauer does have a number of valuable trinkets in the room with him, however; perhaps he simply doesn't trust his hirelings to be in the same room as those relics when he's asleep or away. But considering that he's staying on the third floor overlooking the river, those two would have plenty of trouble escaping unnoticed if they did steal something from him. Perhaps he has simply grown paranoid from carrying those treasures around. Granted, how he acquired those treasures--and what he plans to do with them--are questionable, given his reputation. So perhaps his fears are justified in some...ah, here we are. Whoa, donkey! Whoa!"

The green-painted oakwood facade of the Jade Angel held a rustic charm, but the inn's exterior was hardly as splendid as its name would suggest. Perhaps its interior would have a more refined appearance.

Kurig pulled the wagon brake and locked the lever in place, then swung from the teamster seat to dismount. "I'll be inside for a few minutes, Josef. The innkeeper here still owes me thirty-eight Ruble from my last delivery, so I need to have a word with him before we begin. I might be able to convince him to settle his debt by giving us lodging for the night, or he may pay us in coin. Or we may not be making our delivery after all. We will see."

Kurig idly stroked the donkey's mane and glanced towards the inn's door. "And then, after I see to your pay for today, I plan on shopping for a new donkey so we can return this one. Our next delivery is eight days away in Golzodor, so we can tarry here in Trock Reik for a day or two. Please mind the wagon until I return."

Sparse, falling snowflakes glistened in the midday sun as Kurig shuffled inside, closing the door behind him. Karnoz drew his cloak around him as the breeze rose, then fell, then rose again.

"Psst!" a soft, soprano hiss tugged at Karnoz's ears from the shadows of the adjoining alley. "Sir! Can I interest you in a few small wares?"

A golden-haired head peeked from the alley riding a small and darkly cloaked body. The gnome "peddler" was no legitimate peddler at all, but the wanted scoundrel, Bockiboo Tinspike.


Spoiler:
 

"I've an empty larder and a wee babe to feed," she murmured in the most pathetic tone she could muster, offering up a fine porcelain vase painted with blue spiral patterns for Karnoz's appraisal. "Shan't you please help me this night with a few worthy purchases from my home?"

Karnoz knew in his gut that her sad story was a calculated lie. She seemed considerably more nervous than she had in their first crossing, and whatever the cause for her unease, it weighed heavily on her attempt at subterfuge. And though he was hardly a seasoned interrogator, he could see all of this as clearly as daylight over the mountains.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:43 am

Karnoz offered the poor little gnome a sympathetic look. "You poor thing, maybe I can help." he said stepping closer.

Karnoz knew what the game was, so knowing that Tinspike was an established thief, he was wary for others who might be lurking in the alleyway or for someone to possibly slip onto the wagon while distracted.

"Knock knock little angler." Karnoz crooned, still well beyond arm's reach. "Think me a pigeon then for you visitin the neighbors? I am nobody's uncle. Still, I might have some shiny tin ready for the right piece man. I might be looking to buy, but I have exotic tastes. Think we might have something in common then?"

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:28 pm

(Yeah, I like the Thieves Guild site too. Very Happy )

(Karnoz - Innuendo check (DC 10): Success (22))

Karnoz may have been too distracted to discern the gnome's meaning before, but his attentions rested solely on her now. And his years in Kurvoss had imparted with him a rudimentary yet functional grasp of the local Thieves Cant.

Bockiboo tittered at first hearing him speak in the Cant, but her amusement soon yielded to keen interest. "Exotic goods, eh? And I'd hoped to find a good uncle (fence) for these second-story ardies (goods stolen by burglary), too. Proper ladies really shouldn't leave their windows open with all their milk (pearls) and nooses (necklaces) willied about. Fine, fine...step into my office, sir. I've no shoulder-tappers (backstabbers/waylayers) with me, I promise...for whatever my word's worth, anyway."

Eight steps back into her alley, Bockiboo glanced over her shoulder as she reached for the pile of rubbish before her. Something shrouded in alley-shadows not much taller than she was loitered further down in the alley and answered her glance with a shrug and a turn of the head before leaning back and settling against the wall, tugging at its hood in some cryptic fashion.

The old wooden lye crate in her hands looked innocuous enough, but a lift and a flip revealed a recessed bottom--or perhaps a recessed top--to which a rolled leather bundle had been nailed by its ends. Two tarnished brass buckles fell open at her touch, and the bundle was unrolled to reveal a variety of implements...questionably legal implements.

"Now, if any tin pigs (armored watchmen) happen on us here, we won't be friends anymore," Bockiboo advised with an unforeseen sternness before presenting each ware in its turn, "so let's be quick about this. Bags of kates (lockpicks or thieves' tools), two common and one fancy. A cuirboilli collar...better hope you're wearing this if someone tries to blue your face with a garrote. Cord garrote, wire garrote...two measured hourglasses, for when you want those two-man jobs to fall into place just right. Black adder venom, a slow but strong paralytic...good for making your knives a bit nastier. A set of long-spoon kates...fit the sections together, up to five-foot length. Good for not losing an eye if you jink a lock and set off a trap. And a double-sided coat with leggings, good for changing your face (appearance) in a hurry.

"Ooh...the flashy stuff here. A clockwork burglar. Gnomes like me love these things. Good for picking cheap locks while you brush your hair...just wind it up and stick it in. Three breaker bottles. Say a command word and they shatter, and they'll never break a moment sooner than that...good for springing nasty surprises like acid and poison gas. And finally, a Spool of Endless Rope...not really endless, but 300 feet of rope packed onto a hundred-footer spool with a belt loop, and it weighs just that much too. Don't ask me how they did it."

Bockiboo warily glanced towards the street beyond Karnoz. "So let's talk price, sir. You're sure I can't interest you in a porcelain vase, now?"


What Bockiboo's Offering / What Bockiboo Wants for It:

Thieves' Tools (2): 35 Gold each

Masterwork Thieves' Tools (+2 to Disable Device and Open Locks checks): 110 Gold

Leather Collar (+4 armor bonus against garrote attacks; may restrict breathing and impose penalties for swimming, running and other physical activity if worn for too long): 3 Gold

Cord Garrote (works with surprise attacks and grappling to kill by strangulation. Has finger loops tied into either end for ease of use. Won't work against any victim Huge-sized or larger. Requires Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Garrote to wield effectively.): 2 Silver

Wire Garrote (like the cord garrote, but inflicts 1d8 Damage per round from both cutting and strangulation. Without the wooden handles on either end, a wire garrote will cut the attacker's hands for 1d3 Damage per round as well. Won't work against any victim Huge-sized or larger. Requires Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Garrote to wield effectively.): 13 Gold

Measured Hourglass (2) (simple hourglass with clear glass bubbles and throat, gray sand and maplewood bases and handles; one hour duration maximum, scored measures etched into two opposite sides of each bubble measure time in 10- and 15-minute increments): 36 Gold each, or 65 Gold for both

Black Adder Venom, one-dose vial (injection/injury vector, 0 initial damage, 1d6 Strength Damage per minute after, Fortitude Save at DC 12 to resist): 150 Gold

Long-Spoon Thieves' Tools (reach up to 5 feet when fully assembled, 2 extra rounds to ready and use, -2 penalty to any Disable Device or Open Locks checks using these tools; any trap with a short range or a limited target area (such as poisoned needles or falling blocks) may automatically miss if the thief fumbles the Skill check and triggers the trap; certain types of traps may damage or destroy these tools (barring a Reflex save, perhaps), which should still be preferable to the trap harming or killing the user himself; other uses for five-foot-long thieves' tools may exist as well): 85 Gold

Double-Sided Clothes, 1 set (each side is a completely different color theme and style of clothing; use with Disguise skill to duck out of sight, turn the clothes inside-out, change appearance and throw off any pursuers or allay suspicions; reduces disguise-crafting time to 2 minutes minimum (for reversing the clothes, adjusting hairstyle, assuming a false limp and/or similar rudimentary changes), though changing time may increase for the usual complications (changing sex, changing race, etc.)): 62 Gold

Mechanical Burglar, Type I (small gnomish clockwork device, wind it up and insert the lockpicking tongue into the lock; automatically picks Very Simple locks up to DC 20; takes 1d10 rounds to open the lock and can work unattended; noisy function which may attract any nearby guards or monsters who hear it working): 2,100 Gold

Breaker Bottle (3) (capacity: about 1 pint; empty, but can be filled with various substances and stoppered; typically unbreakable against most impacts, but automatically shatters and releases its contents when a certain trigger word--"Ullagmi" for these bottles--is said within aural range of it): 170 Gold each

Spool of Endless Rope (300' of continuous silk rope which appears to be much shorter--about 75 or 100 feet--when fully wound on the spool; only weighs 10 pounds total, including the tin spool, pinlocking winch and belt loop; may be rewound with the winch at the rate of 1 round for every 50 feet, rounded up; any lengths of rope cut from the Endless Rope are permanently lost): 2,100 Gold



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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:37 pm

With a final look back at the wagon, Karnoz followed Tinspike into the alley. As the gnome opened up her stash, Karnoz kept a wary eye out, especially at the hooded figure in the shadows and tugged his own hood further down, obscuring his features. He was also thankful for the mask he wore 'to blot out the cold and blowing snow', even if it was not his trademark red mask.

"I agree that we must be quick, time is fleeting, no? So are you but a lone wolf or one of a mob in town?"

**(Iwould like to purchase the adder venom and all 3 breaker bottles. (660 GP total) I know she is marking up her prices so between appraise and haggling, I would like to get it all for 600 (or better if possible). I am also willing to throw in the snare trap, an alchemist fire flask, my two long daggers and 1 acid flask if she is willing to barter down the price. I am also willing to 'let her win' some of the negotiations if she would be willing to deal in the future on the side. (See below))**

The exchange completed, Karnoz pocketed his new aquisitions.
"I thank you and your word's good with me...until it isn't anymore anyway. By cahnce, you wouldn't hapen to know where I might happen to find someone? A boatman who owns a boat called 'The Otter's Lament'? Is he an angler as well?"

"In any case, I might be interested in some other deals if you're interested in a bit of extra tin. I have been known to be ready with a few queer bits of paper now and again. I also dabble as a drink mixer here and there. Might that interest you any?"

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:54 pm

(Karnoz - Appraise check (DC 15): Success (19))

(Karnoz - opposed untrained Diplomacy check (+2): 16)
(Bockiboo - opposed Diplomacy check: 15)

With a practiced eye, Karnoz examined the texture and evident quality of the venom as well as the quality of the bottles' fabrication. And lo, did the haggling begin.

"Perhaps we can come to an agreement, since I could very well be working with you in the future. Discounting a few Ruble from each of these bottles will go a long way in our future...."

"Come now, I took plenty of risks to bring these to you. I came a hair's breadth from becoming Hizzoner's guest! Surely my prices are fair...."

"Ah, but this venom looks...straited in texture, a telltale sign that it's far from fresh. 120 Ruble seems a better price...."

"I know the snake handler who harvested that venom. And now you insult his work? I'm afraid your price just went up...."

"There's no need to take my appraisal personally. I apologize if my tone was harsh, but I do know venomous snakes and venoms quite well. The snake itself may have been beyond its prime...."

"Oh, very well. I suppose I can go a bit lower on the venom's price. But I simply must stand on what I charge for the bottles...."

"But with those brass cork seals and a trigger word like "ullagmi," these bottles were likely crafted by the glazier-wizard Valden Dupri, whose work is cheap and remarkably inferior. These bottles could accidentally shatter at any time! Surely you can't expect me to pay full price...."

"Oh, you can't possibly be certain of that! My supplier informed me that Lilandia Nortt was the hedge wizard who enchanted these bottles, and her work is superb and renowned...."

"Trust me. I've worked with Dupri several times in my history, and I know his work when I see it. Perhaps I can further persuade you by offering these goods in trade...."

"Oh, I couldn't possibly accept that flask of nitric acid. The rest might do, but is that a burr in this dagger's edge...?"


(The haggling and counter-offering carry on for a bit longer, and it's a very close duel of commerce between Karnoz and Bockiboo, but ultimately she's willing to part with the venom and the three breaker bottles for the price of 620 Gold, the snare trap kit, the two long daggers and the flask of alchemist's fire. Is this acceptable?)

(And my advice: Appraise does help in haggling as far as discerning whether or not the merchant's prices are marked up (sometimes done in anticipation of hagglers, fittingly enough, and sometimes done just to swindle people out of a few more coins...), but Karnoz may want to put his above-average Charisma to good use by developing his Diplomacy skill in the future. Developing Bluff and/or Sense Motive as well can also help, as 5 or more ranks in each of those skills confers a +2 synergy bonus to Diplomacy checks...which makes sense in haggling, with Bluff to help pass off your own fibs ("I need the extra coin for my poor, sick mother....") and Sense Motive to help ferret out the other haggler's fibs ("Oh, don't give me that. You're wearing garnets and satin but you can't afford food for your kids? Feh.") and set up your own counter-fibs ("Your mother is not sick. I've met your mother, and I saw her walking through the marketplace just a few days ago...").)

(On top of that, Diplomacy, Bluff and Sense Motive in themselves can be particularly useful in Karnoz's line of work, whether it's wriggling out of an arrest, convincing a victim-to-be that Karnoz isn't his enemy or seeing through a dishonest cohort's attempts at deception ("Nice try, Jimmy. Now tell me where you really stashed my money."). Bluff can also be used to feint in combat (the better to land a killing blow when the target's already aware of you), it can divert people's attention while Karnoz ducks and Hides, and 5 or more ranks in Bluff will also lend +2 synergy bonuses to Karnoz's Intimidate, Pick Pockets and Disguise checks as well (though it only works with Disguise when Karnoz is trying to stay in character while being observed, not for making and applying the disguise itself).)

The cloaked figure in the alley grew more and more fidgetty as the haggling continued, interlaced with snippets of conversation. "Oh, I'm hardly a lone wolf. I'm with Papa Pasha's Purse Poppers...me and the shady fellow down the alley, put here by Papa Pasha himself to watch my back and keep me relatively honest. The other two mobs in town--the Winter Magpies and the Red Ale Gang--keep trying to push us out, but we're holding our own and growing. At least Oily Tetrov and his gang are getting us into talks with the made men from the other two mobs, though. Tetrov's gang is squelching commerce coming into Trock Reik, which is bad for us. So the three guilds are getting together so maybe we can tap Tetrov's shoulder and make him disappear. We'll probably fall back on our usual rivalry after that, but at least Tetrov won't be in our way anymore.

"It's crazy, but I keep hearing rumors that Papa Pasha answers to an even bigger mob...and so do the bosses from the other two mobs, all three mobs answering to some big Prince Prig somewhere. But why would any bigger guild of canters pit their underlings against each other like this? It makes no sense.

"So...the Otter's Lament, you say? No, Peluko the Boatman's a perfect cull. Probably never nipped a coin his entire life. That doesn't stop us from taking his coin, of course. Peluko has a fancy for tails, and his favorite's Verenina at the academy behind Dolnick's Cobblers. She's one of our rum divers, and she's always quite jolly and ready to help Peluko find his belt and trousers after a good snooze. It's one way to get some good tip coin, I suppose.

"And you're a queer ghost writer of sorts, eh? I may need to bring you to Papa Pasha tonight around...oh, what time? Let's say nine fingers," she pondered, subtly baring the palms of her hands to Karnoz. "Papa should be warming his hands in his tin piles then, so meet me at the town well a finger before. Bring a bucket so the moon pigs don't lend us a hairy eye. Oh, this could be just what I need to get Papa's love back after that bungled rounder job...."

3:00 in the morning? But Karnoz's business with Hennbauer would be concluded by then, and he would probably be back in Kurvoss trying to collect the rest of his rather large payment from Yorgo. Would it even be possible to keep such an appointment with Bockiboo's boss?


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:27 am

The deal is acceptable, and so many skills, so few points to spread around. *sigh*

The deal done, Karnoz tucked away his new aquisitions while handing over his part of the agreement.

"I will see about your meeting, but if I cannot attend, then pass a message to Pessrelek at the Library of Boccob. Tell him it's for Josef and I will get it as soon as I am able. Until then, it has been a pleasure doing business with you, but I must away to my daylight job."

With a polite not of his head, Karnoz returned to his wagon, quickly doing a check of his pockets to make sure that all was as it should be.

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:16 pm

(Karnoz pays 620 Gold, the flask of alchemist's fire, the two long daggers and the snare trap, in exchange for the dose of black adder venom and the three breaker bottles.)

"Thanky for your legitimate business," Bockiboo cooed as she rolled up her leather bundle and buckled it back together. "I've no idea who this Pesselrek is, but I do know the Library, 'Josef'. It would be nice to see you at the water bricks tonight, though. Nothing beats the crisp taste of freshly drawn winter water and opportunity...heh. Try not to get any stripes before then!"

The gnome picked up her lye box and gamely followed the shadowed figure away. Karnoz returned to the wagon, and none too soon; Kurig was just then stomping outside, looking rather cross.

"Can you believe it, Josef? They paid for this delivery and some of the last one, but they still owe me ten Ruble! So they gave us a night in their common room, free of cost. The room comes with a dinner of cheap turnip stew and some of the ale I just sold to them, and we have to share the room with four complete strangers! And we still need to pay extra if we want any good food, too. I swear on my bones, that innkeeper had better well let us sit in for Kuria Linienkosa's performance tonight!"


• • •

The last of the barrels had been rolled into the Jade Angel's ale store, the wagon had been stabled, the City Watch's donkey had been returned for a newly purchased roan mule and Kurig had settled down with his partner 'Josef' for a repast of turnip stew and bitter brown ale. Across the room, the sour-faced half-elven innkeeper sternly instructed a plump-hipped barmaid on how he felt an ale mug should be properly wiped clean and returned to the mug rack, earning yet another sour stare from Kurig.

Out of his own pockets Kurig had paid a handful of copper Kopek for a loaf of honey bread, and it was already half-devoured when Kurig fetched his purse from his belt. "Well, Josef, another work day has passed. We did well today, all things considered," he proclaimed with another pointed glance at the innkeeper, "and I owe you for your share of the day's work and commerce. Ten Ruble is your share...yes, surprising, but I did say that the wine trade was quite lucrative, true?"

Ten golden Ruble was indeed a fortune to peasants and laborers who could only hope to see copper and silver for a long day's work. But for one of Karnoz's skill, far greater pay would certainly await him in his future. Barley is cheap, fine wine is costly...but how much is the cost of one life, spared or lost?


(Karnoz gains 10 Gold.)

Somewhere outside, the belltower pealed four times over the great City Hall plaza. Kurig cast a wistful eye to the window and nodded with a lopsided grin.

"Ah, now to wait two hours for the virtuosa to please us all with her gift of song. Perhaps you will stay for her performance, Josef, or perhaps you will wander and see the sights of Trock Reik. This is your first time to the city, yes?"


Karnoz >
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:25 pm

Josef happilly pocketed the coins as well as a few scraps of meat and fruit for the little squeakers in their sack.

"This is indeed my first time to Trock Reik and I would so very much like to see more of the city and perhaps even enjoy a few of these coins. While I may find my way back to hear Kuria Linienkosa's performance, don't worry if I do not make it back in time."

A foolish grin spread over his face. "Especially if the Goddess of Luck smiles down upon me in a card game, yes?"

"Still, I will visit the guard for you and see if any of Berbolyn's items were returned if you would tell me what to look for."

Before I leave, go up to the bar and trade in 20 silver for 2 gold, just to lessen the amounts in my pockets for the moment.

After a brief, finishing conversation, Karnoz made his way out to the tavern. Stopping by the wagon, he made sure to carefully drop the food bits to the batlings and tuck them away for the night . Grabbing his bottle of Mulroon Estates and a double handfull of salt, Karnoz headed out into the streets.

**(I have several things to do at the moment, first, stop by the Bard and Fox and see if they would be willing to buy the bottle of Mulroon Estates. (sell it for whatever I can get, so long as it's fair) Then hop on over to the Library to see if I can identify the pink potions I got last night. (20 GP/20 minutes for a guaranteed success) Pour three of my acid flasks into the breaker bottles, then neutralize and clean the 3 original bottles (the heavy glass might be useful for something in the future). Finally, visit Pesselrek to see if he has my potions he promised to deliver. Lastly, ask around to see if any of them know where Dolnick's Cobblers is located.)**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:46 pm

"Truth be told, I had planned to visit the guardtower in the morning, before Berbollyn's funeral in the Gray Yard. There's no need to trouble yourself; you have done plenty for me already. Enjoy your evening, Josef."

With a concerned warning to avoid losing too much money at games of chance, Kurig returned to his repast and his wait. Rising from the table and going about his business, Karnoz found that the barkeep was quite willing to exchange silver for gold, what with so many drunkards needing change for their next mugs and bottles. Karnoz pocketed the two Ruble and stepped outside.


(The coin exchange has been denoted in the Party topic.)

The three bat pups were getting uncomfortably cold by the time Karnoz returned to them. They were quite famished for their age, and they wolfed down the table scraps with squealing zeal. But the chill of winter's night would be their truest enemy; without their mother's warmth or any other, they could not be expected to survive until dawn. Further precautions would be needed if Karnoz would see any profit from the infant dire bats.


• • •


(Karnoz - Appraise check waived.)

The bottle of Mulroon Estates had a fair value to the Minkets brothers and their barkeep, and the three took turns examining the bottle's evident value...the vintage, the cork and wax seal, the punt, the consistency of the wine, everything that they could discern. "Fifteen Rubles," they offered...not bad for the wine's vintage, winemaker and reputation.


(Karnoz may try to haggle over the wine, but the offer is already generous; haggling might therefore sour relations or cause them to stop the sale alltogether.)


• • •


(Karnoz pays 20 Gold for identifying the three pink potions. The Alchemy check is waived. And each pink potion is a Potion of Cure Light Wounds which will heal 1d8+1 Damage when drank.)

Doubt transformed into certainty as Karnoz noted the salt gelling without melting or sizzling on contact with three pink droplets. Healing potions, he mused. Those two bandits were not entirely foolish going into their endeavor, clearly having anticipated that some robbery victims might resist with violence. But then, a wise bandit would have kept such potions on his person; when one is bleeding heavily from a nicked vein and teetering on the verge of eternity, digging under a boulder to fetch a bag of potions would cost precious seconds which one might not rightly have.


(Mystery check (d6): 4)
(Dice dice dice...)

"Mister...Josef?" Relexia the novice approached him as he loomed over the alchemist table. "Pesselrek the mage regrets that he could not be here, and that he could only procure one of the reagents which you asked. He mentioned that you were in the business of brewing antidotes and medicines, but...these are the raw ingredients. Please, if these are meant for antidotes, ensure that you brew the antidotes promptly; the keepers of the law would not be the least understanding if they found you with these."

The broadcloth bundle was unrolled on the table before Karnoz, and the roll of heavily waxed parchment inside followed.

Two fresh Malyss roots, each of which could be prepared, ground and steamed into a strongly poisonous paste. And there lay the danger: though Pesselrek was naive and trusting, the same frailties might not be found in Boccob's priests. They would surely react very poorly to see him concocting poisons in their temple, and they would surely have a great deal of explanation to offer the City Watch if Karnoz were to accidentally poison himself--an all too real threat when concocting Malyss root paste--and crumple into a limp, fevered, withering heap on their temple's floor.

Karnoz thanked the acolyte and rolled the parchment and cloth around the black, twisting roots once more, then returned to finishing his work with the curatives and the acids.


(Karnoz has acquired two Malyss roots, each of which can be alchemically converted into one dose of the potent nerve toxin, Malyss root paste (though if Karnoz spends an entire week brewing poisons, each root could possibly be stretched into two doses or more...). This contact poison is ideal for smearing onto surfaces which a victim's skin is likely to contact...a doorknob, a dinner knife's handle, the inside of a tunic, and so on. It will normally lose potency after four hours of exposure to air, but exceptional Alchemy checks may prolong this duration further.)

(Karnoz has filled the three breaker bottles with the Aqua Nitrus acid, and he now has three cleaned glass flasks ready to be filled with other liquids, powders or gasses. Since all three breaker bottles will burst with the same command word, this can make for a very nasty surprise. But Karnoz should also ensure that any breaker bottles that he doesn't want to shatter--if any--are well out of earshot when he says the trigger word.)



• • •

(Karnoz - Gather Information (DC 5): Success (7))

The decrepit old man squatting in the cold breezeway laughed a hoarse, half-toothless laugh at Karnoz's question. Surely he was in no physical condition to be one of the brothel's regular guests, but he quickly revealed himself to be ignorant of the matter, his laugh entirely the product of creeping senility.

"Yuh, I know where Dolnick's is. Who does not, eh? I had a new pair of heels put on my boots three winters ago, and they still hold. See?" He clopped his furred boot on the ground to punctuate his story. "Go east along Yeseni Street over there, turn left at the dolphin fountain and go down Jakon Street. It should be the fourth...no, third shop on the right."

An easily found cobbler, eh? Karnoz found himself wondering how effectively it worked as a concealing front for a brothel when everyone knew where it was. But then, brothels were just another taxable enterprise in such a locale; the guards themselves might sacrifice a week's pay for whatever comforts the working women--and men--could provide. No, it was not the brothel itself which demanded discretion. It was what illicit activities passed through it. And one rather important harlot there had answers for Karnoz's questions.


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GoldenDrakon
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Thu Aug 26, 2010 5:37 am

Karnoz accepted the coins happilly, a feeling that was doubled when the wine sale helped finance his discovery of the three healing potions. Yet the circle still turned when his path crossed with two malyss roots, but that also came with a shaded warning. The Boccobites were becoming too aware of his activities. While the library's lab had been invaluable, he dared not mix any of his more favored reagents here. He cursed silently in his mind; the poisons would simply have to wait.

A quick trot back to the wagon saw the roots and empty vials safely tucked away in the secret compartment of Kurig's wagon before he headed out only to cross paths with a vagabond, but a vagabond who knew what he was looking for.

Karnoz needed a room, a private room but after a brief chat, he determined that this vagabond's dwelling would have been unsuitable.

"Tell me friend," Karnoz said. "You wouldn't happen to know a place where a man could take a room for the night? Someplace that'll leave a man and his bottle alone and let him wake up in his own time do you? Mind you, I'm pressed for coin, but it's just too cold to lay weary bones down in the street."

**(Even if the old man doesn't know, I will start looking for a place to rent for two nights. I don't care if it's a dive, I want a place that leaves one alone, not offers comforts. Just a bed and a locked door will suffice.)**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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